My love of beans is no secret. I strive to serve a bean meal once a week. Black-eyed peas are eaten everywhere in the lower half of the USA. The peas, the basis for the lucky New Year’s Day dish hoppin’ John, also feature in the cold salad known as Texas caviar. And they’re often found on a plate of Southern food together with their side partner Simmered Mustard Greens. If you don’t have time to soak the peas overnight, use the quick-soak method for beans described on page 12 of “Mad Hungry Cravings”.
- 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
- 1 meaty smoked ham hock
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large bowl, soak beans overnight covered by at least 2 inches of water. Drain and rinse beans.
- Place beans, ham hock, onions, garlic, salt, and bay leaves in a large pot and add water to pot just to cover beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove from heat. Transfer ham hock to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones, chop meat, and return meat to the pot. Serve beans directly from the pot using a slotted spoon.
Cooking Dried Beans: Most recipes give a range of cooking time for dried beans such as black-eyed peas, because it’s one thing you can’t predict. Timing varies widely depending on the age of the dried beans, and when they are plucked from the grocery shelf. There’s no way to determine how long they’ve been there. It’s a different story if you buy beans from a known vendor at a farmers’ market. Start tasting those beans for doneness at the lower end of the range.